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'Stand Your Ground' Law in Florida - Florida Law Before & After This Law was Enacted

A decade ago (in 2005) Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' Law was enacted. As Orlando criminal defense attorneys who frequently handle crimes involving firearms and weapons offenses, and other violent crimes we are often asked about this law, and what it means.

Upon enactment of the 'Stand Your Ground' law in the state, the headlines were everywhere; the controversy drew attention around the country. While gun advocate groups and others who support gun ownership had the notion that this new law expanded an individual’s right to use deadly force at any time or in any situation where that individual felt threatened or feared imminent violence, others could picture in their minds the state reverting back to the old days, something akin to the Wild Wild West.

Here is the true picture of Florida law before and after the 'Stand Your Ground' law was enacted

Before the 'Stand Your Ground' law was enacted, an individual could only use deadly force to defend him- or herself against the commission of a forcible felony, or imminent (immediate) deadly force or great bodily harm. If a person was in immediate danger due to the use by another individual of unlawful non-deadly force, that person could only use non-deadly force in defending him- or herself.

If an individual was in any location other than the home or workplace, that individual had a "duty to retreat" prior to the use of deadly force. However, if an individual was in his or her home, he had no duty to retreat before using deadly force provided that he/she had a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to defend him/herself against another person committing a forcible felony, or defend against deadly force/great bodily harm. This right to use deadly force while in one's home is known as the "Castle Doctrine."

What changed when the 'Stand Your Ground' law was enacted?

Essentially, two conclusive presumptions were introduced; these presumptions protect those who defend themselves from criminal and civil prosecution of either non-deadly or deadly force in self defense. The presumptions include:

  • The defendant had a reasonable fear that deadly force was necessary; and
  • The intruder had the intention to commit an unlawful act which involved violence or force

After the passing of the 'Stand Your Ground' law, the "Castle Doctrine" was expanded to include not only one's home, but any location where an individual is entitled to be under the law. Ultimately, now someone can lawfully defend himself using deadly force without the duty to retreat, regardless of where that person is when faced with imminent fear of intrusion or attack. This applies so long as the individual is in a place where he/she is lawfully entitled to be when intrusion or attack occurs.

It is important to note that in no state may someone shoot another person who is simply moving toward that individual in a way that is loud or aggressive, or shouting at that person. You must have a reason to believe that serious bodily injury, death, kidnapping, or rape is imminent. In states which do not have a 'Stand Your Ground' law, deadly force can only be used outside of the home when no safe avenue of retreat exists. In Stand Your Ground states such as Florida, deadly force may be used even if a safe avenue of retreat is available, when imminent threat of death, injury, or the other harms listed above is present.

Client Reviews

I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Marcela Giorgi
Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink